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Re-Opening Strategy

Guidelines for Re-Engaging in Public GatheringsSummer 2020 

Summary

 We are taking a multiple-phase approach to gathering as a church body. Simply put, we’ll stay online via Zoom through the end of May, and then introduce a hybrid approach, called “Satellite Groups” that will run through early July. At that point, we will re-evaluate what state and local recommendations are, but barring any unforeseen changes, we will begin back at Highland July 12.  

Overview

 The appropriate posture in returning to corporate worship is one of celebration (“I was glad when they said to me, ‘let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1), and at the same time one of mourning. We recognize the sobering reality that many lives have been lost or drastically changed in the past 4 months in Washington County, and we are called to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Death and sickness are not part of God’s original design for his good world, and are a result of the brokenness of humanity thanks to sin.  

What You Can Do

 Keep in mind that not everyone is on the same page you are, but that we are called to peace. As you lament that things still aren’t as we wish them to be, we ask that you “are patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14b), and that you “always pursue what is good for one another and for all” (1 Thess 5:15b).  That means if you’re feeling sick or had a fever recently – stay home. If your children have been sick or feverish – keep them at home. Catch your sneezes in your elbow, and keep your hands washed.  And lastly – ask before you reach for a hug or to shake hands. Be respectful of others’ wishes for distance, and pray that God would speed the day when we can enjoy each other’s nearness again. 

Timeline for Gathering

 After spending time in prayer, weighing carefully the feedback of the survey we sent out, and seeking the counsel of Sojourn Network and other local pastors, we are electing to employ a “phased approach” to re-opening, with strategic value in each phase. This allows regular attenders to move at a pace that they are personally comfortable with, as well as keeping us faithful to the God-ordained authority of our state and local leaders as we begin meeting in-person. Given the current state of opening in Iowa, we are fairly confident of these dates.

PHASE NOW: ZOOM GATHERINGS

We will continue to be 100% online via Zoom through the end of May.

PHASE ONE: SATELLITE GROUPS – BEGINS JUNE 7, 2020

Satellite Groups Defined: RCC attendees will sign up to be in Satellite Groups (no need to sign up if you do not wish to attend, and/or need to stay distanced for other reasons). Leadership will divide those who signed up, based on geographic location and children you’re bringing, and communicate where you need to go on Sunday mornings. Worship in Satellite Groups consists of singing, scripture, prayer, and kids activities – sermon will be via Zoom. If you are willing and/or able, potluck brunches are encouraged following worship. Each group will decide amongst themselves what they are comfortable with.

CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER

Be sure to wash your hands often, especially if you are preparing food. 

Ask before hugging

PHASE TWO: HIGHLAND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - BEGINS JULY 12, 2020

Defined: We will resume meeting at Highland, similar to what we are used to. Worship will have full children’s ministry, live singing, and continue a Zoom option for those still uncomfortable with joining. We will resume Communion at this time, using pre-packaged elements. 

CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER

Food will be individually pre-packaged items, and coffee will not be self-serve. We plan to wipe down all common surfaces after each gathering, and encourage you to wash your hands often. In the event social distancing is still recommended, doors will be propped open (not held by greeters) and chairs will be self-serve so you can set them wherever you are comfortable.

When the state opens up to 200 or more, and is no longer recommending social distancing, we will return to loaf and cup communion, door greeters, and so on.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

 We also are not medical professionals, so we are not making recommendations about masks, gloves, or other PPE. We will leave those kinds of things to personal discretion and prayer. You are welcome to wear as much or as little PPE as you feel comfortable with, but please be patient and respectful with those who don’t match your level of concern.  For the sake of being able to clearly communicate, the Leadership Team are not planning to wear masks at this time, but will respect social distancing protocol and cleanliness as best we can.  

Conclusion

 We anticipate that in the coming months, we may be asked to fluctuate between Phase Now, Phase One, & Phase Two. We also realize that not everyone will be happy with these solutions, or participate in certain phases. That’s okay. We as a Leadership Team commit to patience and peace, and will not judge you if you feel more comfortable staying home for safety reasons. More importantly, there is another phase of gathered worship coming, where there are no restrictions, no plagues, and no more confusion. That is the Kingdom of Heaven phase, where all things are made new, and that should give us hope in these days. Please continue to pray for us, and for each other, that we would honor God in all we say and do and think, until the day we are called Home. If you have any questions about our decision, please feel free to email us at info@rivercityia.org. We love you all, and pray for you often! Grace & Peace, River City Leadership Team